Sweetwater Creek State Park, Georgia


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"And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul."    
~ John Muir

"Forest bathing" has become a popular concept in recent years as people become increasingly stressed out. It's always been therapeutic for me to go hiking anywhere that can still be considered somewhat wild and natural, even if it's in the desert with no trees whatsoever.

What's important to me is getting away from "civilization" for a few hours.

Earlier in this journal I posted six entries about hikes at Sweetwater Creek State Park. It's one of my happy places. The last entry from Sweetwater was in May. A lot happened in the four months from mid-May to mid-September when I didn't go back there to hike. I'll talk a little bit about that in the final entry this year.

This entry will cover five enjoyable hikes I did from September to December, two with just my trail buddy Dapper Don and me and three with other people and dogs. All but one of these hikes were on weekdays.


Here is a map of the marked trails at Sweetwater Creek State Park:

I have been on all of the marked trails now except for about 100 yards at the southern end of the Red Trail where it is very rocky and often under water if the creek is running high.

I've also explored most of the unmarked trails I indicated with black dots on the next map:

I'm not sure why those aren't marked, because they are all easy to follow even when covered in leaves in the fall. I've seen other hikers on them only once, so it's a great place to let Don run off-leash. He doesn't chase wildlife, his recall is excellent, and he mostly stays close to me so he gets off-leash privileges when other people aren't around.

My hikes this fall/winter were all different configurations of the marked and unmarked trails and ranged in distance from 4.75 to 6.0 miles.


The photos in this section are from a hike in late September and two in October. Most of the leaves were still green.



It was just Don and me on the Yellow and Orange Trails in September. I took more photos that day than when I was hiking with other people during the two October hikes.

I stopped at a bench midway through the hike for a water break and a middle-aged couple came by. The woman was smitten with Don and her husband gave him an appropriate new nickname: Don Juan. He does have a way with the ladies!


Here are more photos from the late September hike. The park looked very similar most of October.


There were numerous acorns on the Yellow and Orange Trails  
that day; they were like ball bearings on steeper sections of trail!


In early October we had a group of four humans and four dogs -- Jim with Holly, me with Don, Laura with Moses, and David with Aloha. That was a lot of fun! It was our friends' first time at Sweetwater Creek and they loved it. We did 4.75 miles that day on the Red and Yellow Trails.

This is the only photo I'm including from that hike. Aloha and Don are next to Laura on the bank, and Moses and Holly are swimming in the creek:

Laura went back with me to hike later in October and took Moses, a young Golden retriever who wants to be in the water every chance he gets.

Don is not a fan of water, but he followed Moses into the creek in several places, including the little "beach" area in this scenic area below a very long series of wooden steps on the White Trail:


I take an obligatory "bench shot" of Don above the mill ruins nearly every time we hike past it. This photo includes Moses:

Laura and I did 5.4 miles that day in mid-October on the Red, White, and Green Trails.


Don and I enjoyed a six-mile solo hike the second week of November on the Red, Green, White, and Brown Trails (plus some unmarked trails). All but the last photo in this entry are from that beautiful hike with much more leaf color.












My last Sweetwater hike of the year was on the day after Christmas, a sunny Sunday, with Laura, David, four of their other family members, and two dogs -- Don and Moses. We did six miles on the Red, White, Green, and Yellow Trails that day.

As you can see in this photo, most of the leaves were down by the end of December:

Sweetwater Creek State Park is scenic any time of the year, especially on sunny days. I've been there when it was chilly and when it was warmer, when the creek was high or low, when I practically had the trails to myself and on one busy holiday weekend.

As long as it isn't raining, it's one of my happy places. I hiked there eleven times this year and plan to go back even more often in 2022 for more forest therapy.

Next entry: recap of a plethora of service dog puppies at Warrior Canine Connection

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Casey-Girl, Holly-Holly, & Dapper Don

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2021 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil